Friday, June 27, 2014

Google Talk to Type on Blogger: It can be done

        I wanted to test and see if I could actually do a blog post in Blogger using Google Talk to Type. I was actually surprised to see that what I typed was what I said which tells me that this is another accessibility tool that teachers can be using with their students. 
        I can see it being used especially for students who have a lot of trouble writing and typing and getting their words across. There are some kids out there, who are able to talk and get the point across a lot better than type or write. Sometimes their handwriting is hard to read or they are physically unable to write as much due to a disability.
        If you, as a teacher, may decide to have your students do blog posts or do writing prompts of some sort you can actually set them up in Blogger to do this.  The students who have trouble sharing their thoughts and making them fluid could actually talk and then let it type what they have to say. I agree, it's possible, that you will have things that are little unorganized but you will actually have more content coming from the students when they talk to type.
       I can actually see this talk to type accessibility being used and a lot of different classrooms. If a student has trouble taking notes in a classroom, the teacher could use talk to type and let the student take notes that way and actually record word for word what the teacher says as a later tool to refer to when it comes to taking a test. This would work perfectly for those times when an instructional assistant is not available to go into the classroom with a special needs student. 
       The teacher can actually record himself or herself doing the notes and the special education student could refer to the notes with the resource room staff as a review.  One of the things we did discover, is that if you are using a foreign language this Google Talk to type does not work as well and it is very inaccurate. I would not recommend using it in a foreign language class as a way of helping students do better because what you're going to see come up is not actual factual information.
        I did have to go back to the actual post and edit a little, add punctuation and check the spelling of a few words before I was able to publish it, but, as a means of offering assitance to that kid who isn't a good writer or isn't a good speller, this is a fantastic tool. It can do a lot to help students study, review and assure they are taking good notes as well.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Recording Lessons for a Flipped Environment

If you are a teacher currently looking at the Flipped model or using it, I had an aha moment today I have to share with you.  My French students were learning verb families today.  I have tried several different things to show them the notes on the screen.   I have used paper, a doc camera and projector.  I have used the laptop and connected it to the television.  I am finding that not all of these methods give me the chance to record and show again so kids can go back and relearn if they didn't get it.  Mind you, verb families are easy, but there is an occasional student who needs to see the step by step.
I have an iPad so I used an app called show me. (P.S. it's not my favorite. I was in experiment mode. Show me only allows one page per session. I can't write that small.) I think I will use educreations in the future. As I go back to my story, I linked my iPad to the television with a vga cord.  I wrote right on the device and my notes were there. My aha moment came when  I decided after the fact that I can record that lesson with the program and share it with the kids. Perfect start of a flipped class.
In the future I will be using these apps and recording my lessons as I teach them. I think the kids will really appreciate the availability of the tutorials later.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Reaching all learners

Not all students are created equal.  I was reminded this last week at my TLC cohort training.   (Technology Leadership Certification).  Part of the training involved a group from Indiana that focuses on students with disabilities both physically and mentally.  Some of the kids they deal with are blind, deaf, learning disabled.   It helped me realize the need for modified and differentiated instruction to reach all kids.  The presenters shared with us several tools that we can use to help us reach the learners. Some things are way cool and I never expected how easy they are to do.

For starters, if you are using your phone and have a document open in google, you can talk right into the document and it will sync.   iPhones definitely work and android phones that have Google Keyboard or voice to text installed on them let it work.  It might use data plans, but, if you have a student who is learning disabled, you can have them create a doc for notes and you can record your lesson right onto the doc for them for later reference. Isn't that an easy way to help kids be more successful?   One thing to note, you will have to be in a BYOD school or have a policy in place that permits kids to access a wireless network at school.  (Maybe even a guest network that students can access that gives them limited permissions.)

Another thing to remember is captioning videos.  If you are going to flip your class, caption your lesson.  If you upload your lesson to YouTube, it will auto caption for you, but you will have to edit it to assure it is the right information.   You can also use the free software on your computer, iMovie or Movie Maker, depending if you are on PC or Mac. Either way, that simple step, which through YouTube takes only a little extra time will help that student in need of text be more successful.  It's hard to watch a video if only audio is present.  Some learners need just a little more help, and that could be a caption.

The next few posts I do will provide a few tools that can be added very simply to your computer or to Chrome to help make a learner's life a lot easier.  Check back for more.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer PD

Summer vacation has started and I am ready to go full swing into my own personal PD.  I have talked about personalized PD frequently lately. This summer is no different.  My goal is to spend at least one day a week working on PD so I can share things with my staff.  I am almost done with my TLC training to become a technology coach.  I have even established a website to send them to for tips and techniques.  I am hoping my experiences will better their experience with 1:1 learning and web 2.0.

In my TLC training, I have been asked to visit the Digital learning day blog created by the Indiana DOE.  It's a month of guest bloggers who write about a tool.  I have been challenged to try a tool and do my own blog post about how it would benefit me and also evaluate it for the SAMR model.  I think I am going to spend a little more time focusing on that challenge and come up with several tools.  While I may not go so indepth as to evaluate the SAMR component, I am going to find some tools and share them with my readers.  

That is my summer plan.  Let's get started on summer vacation and personalized PD.